Coelho’s Parable on Adultery

“Sometimes you have to lose yourself to discover who you are.”  The subtitle of Paulo Coelho’s novel, cuts to the chase. It summarises in a sentence the life lesson contained in Adultery.

Brazilian author Paulo Coelho developed a huge following the publication of his novel The Alchemist.  Although this became an international bestseller, I had not read any of his work until relatively recently.

An invitation to review Manuscript Found in Accra was my introduction to his work. This is a contemplative series of stories in which the citizens of Jerusalem in 1099 explore questions relating to love, jealousy and fear.  In the process, they uncover wisdom. The deceptively simple format seems to really work and gave me an insight into why Coelho’s work appeals to so many people.

He writes beautifully and his thoughtful insights serve as a form of consolation for the soul. Manuscript Found in Accra, in particular, is a book to keep and seek out in times of stress and trouble.

A parable

Coelho’s latest novel, Adultery, is a parable. Plot — and to some extent character — take second place to the moral of the tale. It’s the story of a bored and slightly depressed journalist, Linda, with a perfect husband and children who lives a privileged life in Switzerland yet is bored and dissatisfied. The plot begins is based around what happens when Linda  comes across a former boyfriend  and embarks on an affair.

Linda is not a particularly sympathetic character. Nevertheless, she has characteristics that many readers will recognise either in themselves or in others. She seeks meaning by questioning her own thinking, reading and talking to friends. While she has a loving husband, Linda longs for something more. She even consults a ‘shaman’ or wise man in her quest for meaning. Ironically, it is her husband who ultimately helps her to discover wisdom. She realises that losing control is the key to finding herself and unlocking emotional healing from within.

Adultery by Paulo Coelho is published by Random House. [Disclosure: An Advance Reader’s Copy (ARC) was made available via for the purpose of this review.]

See also Manuscript Found in Accra by Paulo Coelho.

Manuscript Found In Accra by Paulo Coelho

Paulo Coelho is widely loved for his inspirational writings. Manuscript Found in Accra is another title from his pen that is likely to hold appeal for Coelho fans all over the world.

Life is a continuous process of change but at times almost all of us find change difficult to deal with. Whether through bereavement, health concerns, financial and career problems or other disappointments, there are times when we all become anxious, uncertain and fearful. These feelings know no cultural boundaries and are as old as mankind.

In Manuscript Found in Accra, a wise man known as “the Copt” offers words of wisdom and consolation to the people of Jerusalem who, in July 1099, were in fear as the city awaited invasion. Individuals from various walks of life pose questions to the Copt on matters such as victory and defeat, love, elegance and beauty, anxiety, solitude, fate and the future.

Anxiety was born in the very same moment as mankind. And since we will never be able to master it, we will have to learn to live with it‹just as we have learned to live with storms.”

The questions posed in Manuscript Found in Accra touch on universal themes and the Copt’s responses resonate with modern readers facing their own anxieties and fears.

This is a beautifully written book that shows how being mindful of death — the “Unwanted Visitor” — can be the key to living a fulfilled and meaningful life.  The questions posed to the Copt will resonate differently with individual readers but the answers provide universal lessons and consolation for the soul.

Highly recommended.

Manuscript Found in Accra By Paulo Coelho; Translated by Margaret Jull Costa is published by Alfred A Knopf. 2013. ISBN: 9780385349833 (Disclosure: An Advance Reader’s Copy (ARC) of Manuscript Found in Accra was provided by the publisher.)